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Debbie O'Leary
IU School of Law - Bloomington

Tipsheet: The resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales

Aug. 28, 2007

EDITORS: On Monday (Aug. 27), Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced that he will resign next month. Indiana University School of Law faculty recently responded to Gonzales' resignation.

Alberto Gonzales was ready to bend the law. Craig Bradley, Robert A. Lucas Professor of Law: "Alberto Gonzales was President Bush's toady, ready to bend the law whenever it suited the administration's political agenda. His actions in the U.S. Attorney firings and in his efforts to get a hospitalized Attorney General Ashcroft to approve illegal surveillance are cases in point. He was, in this respect, a typical official of the Bush administration." Bradley previously served as an attorney in the Criminal Appellate Section of the U.S. Department of Justice (1970-72) and assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C. (1972-75) before clerking for former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist (1975-76). He later served as a senior trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice (1976-78). His courses at Indiana Law include criminal law, federal criminal law, Constitutional law, and criminal procedure. He has written extensively, including three books and more than 40 articles. His most recent book, The Rehnquist Legacy, was published in 2006. Criminal Procedure: A Worldwide Study, was published in 1999. Bradley can be reached at 812-855-1257 or

Fred Cate

Fred Cate

Gonzales' resignation suggests that there is still an interest in protecting privacy in the U.S. Fred H. Cate, distinguished professor and director, Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research: "Although always a controversial attorney general, two issues seemed to turn the tide firmly against Alberto Gonzalez: His lack of candor about the firing of federal prosecutors and his blind eye toward unnecessary and illegal surveillance. His resignation suggests that there is still some public and political interest in protecting privacy in this country." Cate is a leading authority and frequent congressional witness on information privacy and security issues. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technical and Privacy Dimensions of Information for Terrorism Prevention and the reporter for the American Law Institute's project on Principles of the Law on Government Access to and Use of Personal Digital Information. Previously, Cate served as counsel to the Department of Defense Technology and Privacy Advisory Committee that investigated the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness Program. He is the author of many articles and books, including Privacy in the Information Age, The Internet and the First Amendment and Privacy in Perspective. He can be reached at 812-855-1161 or

Dawn Johnsen

Dawn Johnsen

Gonzales' resignation is good for the country. Dawn Johnsen, professor of law and Ira C. Batman faculty fellow: "Alberto Gonzales' resignation is good for the country and good for the rule of law. But it should mark just the beginning of an essential period of repair and change. We now have the opportunity to move forward -- to take major steps toward repairing tremendous damage to the credibility and standing of the Department of Justice and of our nation. The president and the Senate, now more than ever, must select an attorney general who is a person of great integrity with sufficient independence to tell the president 'No' when his policy proposals are unlawful, and who will respect the separation of powers and the authority of the courts and Congress and will not seek merely to maximize presidential power at all costs. A person who will work to change the Bush administration's culture of excessive secrecy and recognize the value to our democracy of openness in government, which allows 'We the People' to self-govern." Johnsen served in the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice (1993-98), including as head of that office (the acting assistant attorney general, from 1997-98), where she advised the president, the attorney general and the departments and agencies throughout the executive branch on matters of law. Her research includes separation of powers and, especially, presidential power. She teaches Constitutional law, the First Amendment, and seminars on Congress, the president and the courts and sexuality, reproduction and the Constitution. Johnsen can be reached at 812-856-4984 or at